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Wisconsin Lawmakers Introduce "Sore Loser" Bill

Tuesday, September 26th, 2023 -- 8:00 AM

(Jessie Opoien, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Candidates who lose partisan primaries would not be able to register for a general election write-in bid under a proposal introduced by two Republican lawmakers, according to Jessie Opoien with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"A candidate should make a choice to run as a write-in candidate. It should not be allowed as a back-up plan for an unsuccessful bid for a party nomination," the bill's authors wrote in a memo seeking co-sponsors.

The legislation, introduced Friday by Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, and Rep. John Macco, R-Ledgeview, would stipulate that "no candidate losing in the partisan primary may file a registration statement to have write-in votes for the candidate counted in the general election."

Wisconsin law requires that a write-in candidate must register as such in order to have votes counted on their behalf. That would remain the case under the bill, but the candidate could not do so if they had run in the partisan primary.

The bill's authors say it would close a loophole and adhere to the spirit of existing state law, which bars candidates from running in more than one partisan primary at the same time. Many states have some sort of "sore loser" law on the books.

"Elections should be orderly, efficient, equitable, and simple. Leaving the door open for unnecessary confusion risks compromising the integrity of our elections and the confidence of the electorate," Wanggaard and Macco wrote.

The proposal comes about a year after two GOP candidates for the state Assembly ran, and lost, as write-ins after losing their respective primaries.

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